Mrs. Joan Richards pushed the button for the twenty-third floor and the elevator doors were slowly sliding shut. She was a little surprised when a tall man with wispy blonde curls dressed in a deep blue suit stepped through the gap at the very last second to join her.
It was a pleasant surprise. Although there were easily over 400 people living in Mrs. Richards’ large high-rise apartment complex known as Edmonton Heights, she rarely saw any of them. People tended to stay locked behind their doors, only venturing out when it was absolutely necessary. So Mrs. Richards, who was an elderly lady and rather lonely since her husband passed away, welcomed any opportunity for a bit of a social visit. Even if it only lasted the duration of the elevator ride.
“Oh, the sixteenth floor,” she remarked, peering around the man to see what button he pushed. “There’s a lovely lady who runs the convenience store downstairs. She use to live on the sixteenth floor, you know. But then when that new complex went up down the block, she ended up buying a larger apartment there. The Hibiscus Complex I think it’s called.”
The man said nothing. He didn’t turn to greet Mrs. Richards with a smile or a nod, and he did nothing to acknowledge that she had even spoken to him. He simply stared straight ahead, his briefcase by his side, his free hand shoved firmly in his pocket.
Mrs. Richards studied the man. There wasn’t much to him. He was tall, thin and his arms seemed disproportionate to his body. His head was covered in blonde curls which made Mrs. Richards smile. His hair looked like it belonged on a chubby-face cherub. It seemed so out of place on him. Especially when his pale features were arranged in a somber expression, his icy blue eyes hidden by his Gucci glasses.
A lesser woman would have been put off by his silence, but Mrs. Richards was determined to have a conversation.
“It’s nice to have a bit of company for the ride upstairs,” she said. “Most of the tenants these days take the other two elevators. Not sure why. This one works just fine and I like it, on account of it’s closer to my apartment.”
Once again, the man did nothing. He stared blankly ahead at the dull metallic doors. Every now and then his eyes would dart upward to see what floor he was passing. He was impatient. Tiny sighs would escape his lips every once in a while.
Mrs. Richards took her glasses off, rubbing them against the hem of her blouse. This man was acting rather rudely but she was determined to get him to say something. Placing her glasses back on the bridge of her nose, Mrs. Richards took a deep sigh. “My grandson bought me my apartment on the twenty-third floor,” she boasted. “I was happy to live on the ground floor, but my grandson wanted me to be safe from burglars and he told me that they always target the first couple of floors. So he stuck me up in the clouds, but close to this elevator so I wouldn’t have to walk very far when I wanted to go out.”
The man checked his watch, his left foot tapping impatiently on the marbled floor. He changed his briefcase from his right hand to his left and began foraging through his pants pocket looking for his keys.
Clucking her tongue, Mrs. Richards decided to take a different approach. She would ask the man a direct question, which would force him to respond.
“Do you live alone or are you visiting someone?” she inquired.
Still, the man said nothing. Then the number sixteen lit up on the bank of buttons, and the elevator shuddered to a halt. The doors slid open and the tall, thin fellow with the dark blue suit and the wispy curls of golden locks stepped out of the elevator onto the patterned carpet of the hall.
His departure left Mrs. Richards with an odd feeling. A certain kind of disconnectedness. It made her recall a conversation she once overheard in the lobby. One woman had been whispering to another that Edmonton Heights was haunted. Not the whole building, but rather the far left elevator.
Mrs. Richards felt a chill shoot up her spine as she looked out at the man with a vacant stare. As the elevator doors slid shut, she began to wonder if she had just encountered the ghost that haunted the far left elevator of Edmonton Heights.
* * * * * * * * * *
When the elevator doors closed behind him, Tobias Matthews felt a huge surge of relief. He decided from that moment on he would only use the elevators on the other wall. Sure, he would have walk further to get to his front door, but he didn’t want another encounter like the one he just had.
His neighbours had warned him about the far left elevator, informing him that it was haunted. At the time Tobias Matthews had laughed the warning off. He didn’t believe in fairytales and he certainly didn’t believe in ghost stories.
Of course, that was all before he had ridden for sixteen floors all alone with a mysterious column of shimmering, ice-cold air.